People often tend to associate Young-Adult books with clichéd love triangles, one dimensional villains, a lovesick teenager stuck in the centre of a rebellion and the usual good-wins-bad at the end of the day kind of plots. Agreed that most YA books tend to take this easy plot-route to gain a wide market amongst the teenage crowd, but some YA books are created with the very notion of breaking these stereotypical barriers and rising above the usual commercial success. It is these YA books that gives us something more than entertainment for they give us insights and create new ideologies. These books although marketed as YA, usually prove to be a worthwhile read for adults too and if no book has managed to hold your attention in recent times, here are 5 Young-Adult books that will keep your time and mind occupied:
1. The Catcher In The Rye – J.D Salinger
A modern coming of age story filled with themes of teenage angst and rebellion, The Catcher in the Rye is a book you will either love too much or a book that you can never come to terms with. The protagonist-cum-narrator of the story Holden Claufield is a boy of sixteen who uses a witty and satirical style to narrate anecdotes about his various encounter with the adult-world. The story doesn’t have a well-anchored plot and is loosely fixed around Holden’s search for something real while he mocks and throws insults at all the pretentious faces that he sees in the world. The only thing that keeps you attached to the happenings of the book is Holden’s characterisation and the way his mind works and processes the things around him. The true joy of reading this book comes mainly from the way in which the author makes the pains and joys of Holden relatable to readers of all age group. To understand what exactly I mean by this, I suggest you go through the actual experience by adding this book to the top of your TBR list, right now.
2. The Lord of The Flies – William Golding
Lord of the Flies is a 1950 classic novel that has been very often cited as the perfect portrayal of what prevails when man tries to conquer the wild. A novel miles ahead of its time, it gives us a clear message that, man when left to his own devices can only lead to destruction and chaos. Although this novel was rejected about 20 times before being published and was a total commercial flop due to the extreme brutality and savagery of the content discussed, it served as an inspiration to not one but many prominent authors of the present generation including Stephen King who said “The book is not just entertainment, it’s life or death”. Even though the survival-of-the-fittest theme taken by the novel is a repetitive one, what makes it an interesting read is that here the clashes for survival is seen between children belonging to the age group of 6-15 years instead of adults. There are so many questions this book raises about the inherent nature of good and evil that makes it something greater than just a casual read, it proves to be a complete reading exercise for the brain.
3. All The Bright Places- Jennifer Niven
Before reading this book, I was sceptical about it for numerous reasons, the chief amongst it was my worry that it was going to be one of those cliched millennial-heartbreak stories. But fifty pages into the book and all the doubts I had about the book vanished without a trace for the characters were written so beautifully and the emotions they conveyed were raw, powerful, honest and vulnerable. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the story that revolved around them. All the Bright Places tell us the story of two emotionally-scarred teenagers finding their real-self in the comfort of each other’s company. The story does justice to the portrayal of mental-illness and the stigma surrounding it. Any adult or teenager going through a difficult phase can easily see their struggles reflected in the lead characters and that is what makes this book an instant favourite to anyone who reads it.
4. The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
This book was released last year and has been making headlines ever since for its impeccable timing and hammer-on-the-nail commentary about the social landscape of the world. The book revolves around the story of the sixteen year old black teenager Starr Carter who tries to balance her life between her family and school, witnesses a shocking incident that changes her live forever. All the dreams she ever has is radicalized by that one event and how she decides to act upon it makes up the rest of the story. I could keep on going about how this book might be your trigger to bring forth all the changes you wish to see but honestly the true worth of this book can only be well understood if you decide to read it and then make your own judgement.
5. Wonder – R.J Palacio
Wonder tells us the story of Auggie Pullman, a 10-year old who suffers from a very rare genetic facial deformity and the everyday struggles faced not only by him but also by his family in his upbringing. A feel-good family story with a simple yet powerful message, Wonder is a must read for every parent struggling with understanding their kid. The true meaning of a familial bond and its power is well painted in the picture the author draws using the lead characters who face difficult situations every day, together. But above this feeling of home the book creates, it also give us compelling reasons as to why we shouldn’t let appearances cloud over our sense of rationality.
By Jeyashri Ravichandiran